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4K Is For Programmers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-are-no-longer-satisfied-with-your-display-setup department:
An anonymous reader writes "The 4K television revolution is upon us, and nobody is impressed. Most users seem content to wait until there's actually something to watch on these ultra-high-res displays, and also for the price to come down. However, Brian Hauer has written an article promoting a non-standard use for these displays. His office just got a 39", 3840x2160 display for each of their programmers' workstations. He now confidently declares, 'For the time being, there is no single higher-productivity display for a programmer.' Hauer explains: 'Four editors side-by-side each with over a hundred lines of code, and enough room to spare for a project navigator, console, and debugger. Enough room to visualize the back-end service code, the HTML template, the style-sheet, the client-side script, and the finished result in a web browser — all at once without one press of Alt-tab.'"

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Largest Bitcoin Mining Pool Pledges Not To Execute '51% Attack'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's currency-with-an-option-for-hostile-takeover department:
An anonymous reader writes "Bitcoin transactions are confirmed by performing complex calculations, also known as 'mining.' If a single mining pool gains 51% of the overall computational power in the network, various forms of transaction manipulation become possible. Only a few years into Bitcoin's existence, this existential threat appears to be at hand, with Bitcoin mining pool ghash.io approaching 51% of mining power. ghash.io has now assured the Bitcoin community in a press release (PDF): 'GHash.IO does not have any intentions to execute a 51% attack, as it will do serious damage to the Bitcoin community, of which we are a part.' But can a network relying on such assurances survive in the long run?"

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Many Mac OS Users Not Getting Security Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's security-updates-aren't-sexy department:
AmiMoJo writes "According to security company Sophos, around 55% of home users and 18% of enterprise users have updated to Mavericks, the latest version of Mac OS (10.9). Unfortunately Apple appears to have stopped providing security updates for older versions. Indeed, they list Mavericks itself as a security update. This means that the majority of users are no longer getting critical security patches. Sophos recommends taking similar precautions to those recommended for people who cannot upgrade from Windows XP."

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Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks the Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-know-what-you-did-last-summer department:
An anonymous reader sends this report from Business Insider:
"[Ford VP Jim Farley] was trying to describe how much data Ford has on its customers, and illustrate the fact that the company uses very little of it in order to avoid raising privacy concerns: 'We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone,' he told attendees. Rather, he said, he imagined a day when the data might be used anonymously and in aggregate to help other marketers with traffic related problems. Suppose a stadium is holding an event; knowing how much traffic is making its way toward the arena might help the venue change its parking lot resources accordingly, he said."
Farley later realized how his statement sounded, and added, "We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent."

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Intel Challenges Manufacturers To Avoid "Conflict Metals"
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cleaning-things-up department:
retroworks writes "Several news outlets report on Intel's announcement that it will avoid purchases of rare earth minerals and metals, such as tantalum, sourced from high conflict areas such as the Congo basin. Could this lead to manufacturers stating the percentage of their boards which are made from recycled boards, like recycled paper greeting cards?"

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Smart Toothbrush Aims For Better Brushing Habits
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 02:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-be-a-yuck-mouth department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "These days, it seems just about every imaginable thing is 'connected.' There's connected thermostats, locks, refrigerators, forks, and so many more. Now we can add toothbrushes to the list. Brandon Griggs reports at CNN that the Kolibree toothbrush syncs wirelessly with an iPhone or an Android device to track brushing habits, announce whether you have brushed thoroughly enough and reward you for good oral hygiene. 'It works just like a regular toothbrush,' says Renee Blodgett. 'The only difference is that all the data is stored on your phone so you can see how you're brushing.' Users download a mobile app and connect via Bluetooth, and the Kolibree documents every brushing via three sensors that record 1) how long you brush, 2) whether you brush all four quadrants of your mouth, and 3) whether you brush up and down (good) instead of just side to side (bad). 'Before Kolibree, the issue is that there has been no easy and quick way to monitor whether you're doing an A+ job or a C- one when you brush, so how can you improve on a habit you don't have any data about?.' There's a bit of gameplay built in, which challenges users to do better next time, and the company has created an API, hoping that third-party developers will come up with additional apps that will inspire users to brush more and more effectively writes Daniel Terdiman. 'With individual health getting more attention than ever, it's certainly possible people will see the benefit of something that keeps a close eye on how well they're treating their teeth, and which challenges them to do better.'"

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MIT Begins Offering For-Pay MOOC In Big Data
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '14 at 12:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's price-of-a-good-education department:
An anonymous reader writes "MIT announced today that it will begin offering for-profit courses on the edX platform, beginning with a course in Big Data. This is the first for-pay course offered on any of the major MOOC platforms. It is run through MIT Professional Education, the arm of MIT that provides professional education and training for science, engineering and technology professionals worldwide. MIT announced that it will be the first of a new line of professional programs called Online X Programs, to be delivered globally using the MIT and Harvard founded open-sourced online education platform, edX."

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IBM Dumping $1 Billion Into New Watson Group
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's eggs-in-one-basket department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM believes its Watson supercomputing platform is much more than a gameshow-winning gimmick: its executives are betting very big that the software will fundamentally change how people and industries compute. In the beginning, IBM assigned 27 core researchers to the then-nascent Watson. Working diligently, those scientists and developers built a tough 'Jeopardy!' competitor. Encouraged by that success on live television, Big Blue devoted a larger team to commercializing the technology—a group it made a point of hiding in Austin, Texas, so its members could better focus on hardcore research. After years of experimentation, IBM is now prepping Watson to go truly mainstream. As part of that upgraded effort (which includes lots of hype-generating), IBM will devote a billion dollars and thousands of researchers to a dedicated Watson Group, based in New York City at 51 Astor Place. The company plans on pouring another $100 million into an equity fund for Watson's growing app ecosystem. If everything goes according to IBM's plan, Watson will help kick off what CEO Ginni Rometty refers to as a third era in computing. The 19th century saw the rise of a "tabulating" era: the birth of machines designed to count. In the latter half of the 20th century, developers and scientists initiated the 'programmable' era—resulting in PCs, mobile devices, and the Internet. The third (potential) era is 'cognitive,' in which computers become adept at understanding and solving, in a very human way, some of society's largest problems. But no matter how well Watson can read, understand and analyze, the platform will need to earn its keep. Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power? Or will Watson ultimately prove an overhyped sideshow?"

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Google Begins To Merge Google+, Gmail Contacts
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 08:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's make-it-one department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced new integration between Gmail and Google+ that sees your social connections show up in auto-complete when you're composing an email. Google says the feature is rolling out "over the next couple of days" to everyone that uses Gmail and Google+."

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Hubble Images Become Tactile 3D Experience For the Blind
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's feel-the-space department:
An anonymous reader writes "3D printers are transforming the business, medical, and consumer landscapes by creating objects like airplane parts, lamps, jewellery, and even artificial human bones. Now astronomers are experimenting with the technology to transform astronomy education, turning images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope into tactile 3D pictures for people who cannot explore celestial wonders visually."

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New Class of "Hypervelocity Stars" Discovered Escaping the Galaxy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 05:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's greased-lightning department:
Science_afficionado writes "Astronomers have discovered a surprising new class of 'hypervelocity stars' that are moving at more than a million miles per hour, fast enough to escape the gravitational grasp of the Milky Way galaxy. The 20 hyper stars are about the same size as the sun and, other than their extreme speed, have the same composition as the stars in the galactic disk. The big surprise is that they don't seem to come from the galaxy's center. The generally accepted mechanism for producing hypervelocity stars relies on the extreme gravitational field of the supermassive black hole that resides in the galaxy's core."

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How Do You Move a City?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 05:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pick-up-and-go department:
Zothecula writes "The town of Kiruna in Lapland, Sweden, is known for its Jukkasjårvi Ice Hotel and for hosting the recent Arctic Council summit. It also sits within the Arctic Circle, on one of the world's richest deposits of iron ore. Now in danger of collapse due to extensive deep mining, the city center is to be relocated."

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Samsung, Apple Agree To Try Mediation In Patent Disputes
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-can-work-it-out department:
An anonymous reader writes "The smartphone and tablet rivals will work with a mediator in an effort to settle their patent disputes in advance of a second trial on the issues scheduled for this spring, according to Bloomberg News. The agreement, filed in federal court in San Jose today, was in response to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh's request in November that both sides submit a settlement discussion proposal before trial. Senior legal executives at the companies met Jan. 6 to discuss 'settlement opportunities,' according to the proposal. The companies agreed to retain a mediator 'who has experience mediating high profile disputes,' according to the filing, which doesn't name the person. The chief executive officers and three to four company lawyers, but no outside lawyers, will attend the mediation before Feb. 19, according to the filing."

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Metal-Free 'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Renewable Grid Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 03:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's energy-storage-pie department:
sciencehabit writes "A molecule nearly identical to one in rhubarb may hold the key to the future of renewable energy. Researchers have used the compound to create a high-performance 'flow' battery, a leading contender for storing renewable power in the electric utility grid. If the battery prototype can be scaled up, it could help utilities deliver renewable energy when the wind is calm and the sun isn't shining."

Abstract.

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Why Do Projects Continue To Support Old Python Releases?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 03:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's developers-vs-developers department:
On Planet Python, Gregory Szorc asks why many projects continue to support Python releases prior to 2.7, when they are all EOLed (2.4 in 2008, 2.5 in 2011, and 2.6 last October), and Python 2.7 provides a clear upgrade path to Python 3. Quoting: "I think maintainers of Python projects should seriously consider dropping support for Python 2.6 and below. Are there really that many people on systems that don't have Python 2.7 easily available? Why are we Python developers inflicting so much pain on ourselves to support antiquated Python releases? As a data point, I successfully transitioned Firefox's build system from requiring Python 2.5+ to 2.7.3+ and it was relatively pain free."

Shortly after posting, other developers responded with their reasons for using older Python releases. First, Rob Galanakis of CCP (EVE Online) explains the difficulties involved in upgrading a mature commercial project embedding Python. Nathan Froyd adds "I think this list of reasons to upgrade misses the larger point in providing software for other people: You do not get to tell your users what to do. ... Maybe those users don’t have sufficient control over their working environments to install a new version of Python. ... Maybe those users rely on certain APIs only available in older versions of Python and don’t wish to take an indeterminate amount of time to rewrite (retest, recertify, etc. etc.) their software. ... Maybe those users are just rationally lazy and don’t want to deal with downloading, configuring, and installing a new version of Python, plus dealing with inevitable fallout, when the old version has worked Just Fine for everything else."

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CES 2014: A Powered, Remote Control Paper Airplane (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 02:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's off-we-go-into-the-wild-blue-yonder-with-our-powered-paper-airplane department:
Shai Goitein started with a powered paper airplane, the PowerUp 1, which was pretty cool. But he didn't stop there. The PowerUp 3 is a powered paper airplane you control with your smartphone. He calls this "a mixture of origami and technology." He also says it's a great toy, class project or whatever for the younger set, since kids start making paper airplanes at the age of six or seven. Adults? Why not? This is obviously a suitable toy for anyone with a two-digit (or three-digit) age number. And PowerUp 3.0 is a Kickstarter-funded project, with (at this writing) $928,091 pledged -- against a $50,000 goal, with another 15 days of Kickstarter funding left to go. There's also a smartphone-controlled PowerUp paper boat kit. Unlike the PowerUp airplane kits, it's not sold out (at this writing). Yet.

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Bitcoin Payments Go Live At Overstock — Two Quarters Early
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 02:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's will-trade-bitcoin-for-socks department:
New submitter citab writes with news that "the first major retailer is now accepting bitcoins!" In December, Overstock.com announced that they would begin accepting Bitcoin for payment as early as the end of second quarter 2014, but decided to make it a priority task to avoid having someone else beat them to it. From the article: "Last Tuesday, the company struck a deal to handle Bitcoin payments through a service operated by the suddenly hot San Francisco startup Coinbase, and since then, a team of Overstock engineers has worked almost every waking hour to prepare the site for what is undeniably a key moment in the digital currency’s short history. ... [Overstock CEO] Byrne believes this can ultimately boost the company’s bottom line, but that’s not his only aim. For Byrne, a rather opinionated libertarian who’s unafraid to take his company places others fear to tread, embracing the cryptocurrency is as much a political statement as a business decision. Like so many others, he believes Bitcoin can free the world from the control of big banks and big government. 'It helps us fight the machine,' he says."

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Google Fined By French Privacy Regulator
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's clause-37c-google-owns-your-firstborn department:
First time accepted submitter L-One-L-One writes "Following similar decisions in Spain and the Netherlands, Google was fined 150,000 euros by the French Data Protection authority today for breaching data protection legislation. This sanction follows a long inquiry triggered by Google's decision to change its privacy policy in March 2012. The authority notably considers that the new policy 'does not sufficiently inform its users of the conditions in which their personal data are processed, nor of the purposes of this processing,' and that Google combines 'all the data it collects about its users across all of its services without any legal basis.' While the fine may be barely noticeable for Google, the authority requires the search giant to publish this decision on Google's French homepage, google.fr for 48 hours within the next 8 days."

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Pirate Bay Founder's Custody Extended to February 5th
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's copyright-more-important-than-freedom department:
The Pirate Bay co-founder Warg has been held in solitary confinement since being turned over by Sweden to Denmark in December. Yesterday, he appeared in a closed court session where the judge ordered he continue to be held until at least February 5th. From the article: "In an attempt to free the Swede, or at least improve his circumstances, a petition was launched recently, directed at the Danish Prime Minister. Initially there were only a few hundred backers but when a banner was added to the homepage of The Pirate Bay this quickly grew to more than 50,000. Among other things, the petition demands that Gottfrid is given free access to books and other reading material."

Although kept from computers and books, he is at least no longer being held in solitary confinement as of last week.

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People Become More Utilitarian When They Face Moral Dilemmas In Virtual Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's morbid-virtual-reality department:
First time accepted submitter vrml writes "Critical situations in which participant's actions lead to the death of (virtual) humans have been employed in a study of moral dilemmas which just appeared in the Social Neuroscience journal. The experiment shows that participants' behavior becomes more utilitarian (that is, they tend to minimize the number of persons killed) when they have to take a decision in Virtual Reality rather than the more traditional settings used in Moral Psychology which ask participants to read text descriptions of the critical situations. A video with some of the VR moral dilemmas is available, as is the paper."

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